We Don't Live Here Anymore
We Don’t Live Here Anymore begins as two marriages are ending. The couples being affected are Jack and Terry (Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern), Hank and Edith (Peter Krause and Naomi Watts). The four have been friends for years, and they know each other perhaps too well. The plausibility that they’re attracted to one another has always been there.
Maybe that’s why they eventually decide to play spouse swap and hope the consequences aren’t too cruel. If they weren’t so unlikable, we’d possibly relish watching their potentially juicy infidelities. But no. We Don’t Live Here Anymore doesn’t do anything besides give us too many shrill arguments, too many selfish characters. Dramas that entail a marriage on the rocks can make for compelling entertainment, but a single false move can place a so-called “marriage dissolution” film in a purgatory less enjoyable than that of a mid-life crisis. It’s too bad that We Don’t Live Here Anymore is a movie made completely out of false moves without a hint of truth in sight.
Back to the couples. They were all once happily married, but kids, lost opportunities, and an overall feeling of discontent has left them miserable. Jack and Edith are having an affair, meeting in shady hotels, forests, and even each other’s houses to rendezvous — but all dirtiness aside, both feel much too guilty to do anything serious regarding their physical attraction. Terry, meanwhile, is dissatisfied in the role of a homemaker; with Jack’s standoffishness to fuel the fire, she feels as though she is failing at the few jobs life throws at her every day. Hank, the most thinly written character in the movie and possibly a sociopath, is a serial cheater who doesn’t understand why infidelity could ruin a marriage — to him, lack of conscience is a given. Sooner or later, though, the truth about the entire situation comes to light, but it’s surprising just how much it doesn’t have an effect on us.
The writing is stilted, the dialogue coming across with the forced effort of the play that draped over 1977’s Opening Night, and the characters just aren’t winsome enough for us to care about what happens to them. Jack and Edith’s affair is only thinly developed — chemistry only swims around them. And poor Dern and Krause: Dern, terrific as always, is forced to be grating, and Krause dwells under the shadow of his fellow actors in the underwritten, philandering husband role.
Other complaints abound, but I’d rather not dwell on them. The performances are good, but We Don’t Live Here Anymore doesn’t have enough of a soul to make sitting through its bleak 98 minutes worth it. C+